The Fracking Process in New Mexico

Fracking is a method of extracting oil and gas from deposits that are deep underground. In order to do this, a well is drilled down to the deposit, and then a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals is injected at high pressure into the rock. This fractures the rock and allows the oil or gas to escape so that it can be extracted. Fracking has been used in New Mexico for many years in the extraction of oil and gas. Several regulations and laws have been formulated to manage the fracking process in New Mexico. This is because when fracking activity is left lawless, it can be performed carelessly, thus injuring human health as well as the environment. Additionally, this practice earns revenue for the state and creates jobs for the citizens.

Laws Allowing Fracking

There are several regulations and laws that protect fracking in New Mexico. Fracking is allowed without a permit if it occurs several kilometers from an inhabited area. This law was enacted in order to allow for greater exploration and production of hydrocarbons while protecting sensitive areas from potential negative impacts of fracking. Inhibited areas include parks, biosphere reserves, and wildlife refuges. The law was put in place to protect these environmentally sensitive areas from the dangers of fracking (Carmalt & Moscariello, 2020). However, critics argue that the law does not go far enough to protect people and the environment from the risks of fracking. They say that the government should impose a moratorium on fracking until a more comprehensive safety study can be conducted. Ultimately, the decision to allow fracking in New Mexico was based on the potential economic benefits that it could bring to the state (Carmalt & Moscariello, 2020). Fracking has the potential to create jobs and generate revenue through the production of natural gas.

Similarly, New Mexico’s hydrocarbons law of 2014 allows for the exploration and production of hydrocarbons through fracking. It is a New Mexican law that regulates the exploration, production, and transportation of hydrocarbons. The law was amended to allow for the exploitation and production of hydrocarbons through fracking (Carmalt & Moscariello, 2020). The use of fracking has increased rapidly in recent years, particularly in the United States. New Mexico had been lagging in terms of its development of fracking techniques, but the amendment to the Hydrocarbons Law has given a boost to the industry.

New Mexico wanted the hydrocarbon law to increase state revenue and create jobs. The New Mexican governor signed it, which allowed for the exploitation and production of hydrocarbons through fracking (Meyer, 2021). The law was met with heavy resistance from environmental groups and New Mexican citizens alike, who argued that the process of fracking poses a serious threat to both the environment and public health (Meyer, 2021). Supporters of the hydrocarbon laws argued that New Mexico needed to take advantage of its oil and gas reserves to reduce its dependence on foreign energy sources. Meaning that the process of fracking could be safely carried out under strict regulation. However, opponents of the law contended that there was no way to guarantee the safety of either people or the environment (Meyer, 2021). While fracking has had its share of critics, it has also been credited with providing many economic and environmental benefits to New Mexico.

The hydrocarbon laws set forth a rigorous environmental regulatory framework that must be met to frack in New Mexico. This includes groundwater monitoring, seismic monitoring, and public disclosure of all chemicals used in the fracking process (Carmalt & Moscariello, 2020). Groundwater monitoring is essential in order that fracking does not contaminate groundwater resources. Seismic monitoring is necessary to avoid triggering earthquakes. And public disclosure of chemicals is critical so that the public can be informed about what is being injected into the ground. Fracking has been controversial in New Mexico due to concerns about its potential impacts on the environment and human health.

In addition, the New Mexican Constitution guarantees property rights to investors, which gives companies the legal certainty needed to invest in fracking projects. This has led some private investors to major in fracking investment in New Mexico (Carmalt & Moscariello, 2020). Property rights are key for investors looking at any potential market; it enables the security of their investment; the New Mexican constitution provides a good environment for investments. Coupled with proper governance and security, this makes New Mexico an increasingly attractive destination for overseas investment, including in the fracking sector.

Why the Fracking Laws Should Remain

There are several reasons why the fracking laws in New Mexico should not be changed. First and foremost, fracking has been shown to have several benefits to the state, both economically and environmentally. Fracking has given New Mexico a much-needed boost to its economy (Carmalt & Moscariello, 2020). The state is now able to produce its natural gas, which it can use to power homes and businesses, as well as export to other countries. This has led to an increase in jobs and investment across the state. In addition, fracking has aided New Mexico in becoming more energy independent, something that is always desirable for any state. The environmental benefits of fracking to New Mexico are many and varied. For starters, it helps to conserve water resources, as fracking uses significantly less water than traditional oil and gas extraction methods (Carmalt & Moscariello, 2020). Additionally, it can assist in improving air quality by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Finally, fracking can assist New Mexico to become more energy independent by reducing its reliance on imported oil and gas.

Political Roadblocks to Changing Fracking Laws

There are several political roadblocks to changing the fracking laws in New Mexico. One of the biggest obstacles is the lack of a unified push from New Mexican citizens. While there has been some public outcry against fracking, it has not been widespread or forceful enough to compel lawmakers to action. Another problem is that many lawmakers are beholden to the oil and gas industry, which has considerable clout in New Mexican politics (Carmalt & Moscariello, 2020). These companies have been able to block any meaningful reform on fracking laws effectively. Oil and gas companies often face a “NIMBY” (Not In My Backyard) problem when it comes to fracking. The richest voices in a community often succeed in getting the government to allow fracking operations in their neighborhoods, even though it presents a risk to public health and safety. Forcing these oil and gas companies to move to poorer neighborhoods or rural areas is not the answer (Saraç-Lesavre, 2020). Instead, there is a need to make sure that they are held accountable for the harm they cause to these poor individuals.

In conclusion, fracking has shown its negative impacts on the environment and human health, but New Mexico continues to allow it because of the economic benefits. Fracking allows for the extraction of oil and gas from shale formations that would otherwise be inaccessible, providing a much-needed boost to the state’s economy. Despite the known risks, the New Mexican government has decided that the benefits of fracking outweigh them. Different laws have been put into place to ensure that fracking activities are promoted without causing harm to the environment and to the people.


Carmalt, S. W., & Moscariello, A. (2020). Environmental issues related to fracking. The Journal of World Energy Law & Business, 13(5-6), 386-410. Web.

Meyer, M. (2021). Fracking in Pueblo and Diné Communities. UCLA Journal of Environment Law and Policy, 39, 89. Web.

Saraç-Lesavre, B. (2020). Desire for the ‘worst’: Extending nuclear attachments in southeastern New Mexico. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 38(4), 753-771. Web.

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LawBirdie. "The Fracking Process in New Mexico." May 15, 2023.